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Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) helps out


Canal volunteers helped by Python: The Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) held their Bonfire Bash on the Chesterfield and Cromford canals at the start of November. Over 70 volunteers came for this annual weekend event.

The WRGies, as they are known, give up their spare time to go on camps to help restore the nation’s canals. These camps are sometimes over weekends, but often last for one or two weeks. The Chesterfield Canal Trust has hosted very many WRGie camps in the last few years. The Trust’s Publicity Officer, Rod Auton said: “We are hugely grateful for the help received from the Waterway Recovery Group on projects like the new Staveley Town Lock. It is incredible what a sudden influx of WRGies can do to add to the wonderful work done by our own volunteer Work Party. We have been very lucky that they have been able to come to us so often.”

The volunteers worked on four sites – Kiveton, Renishaw and Lowgates on the Chesterfield Canal and Ironville on the Cromford Canal.The Chesterfield gangs were all involved in scrub bashing, i.e. cutting down trees, shrubs and undergrowth to expose the canal. The resulting logs soon disappeared to be used on local log burning stoves, often in return for a donation. The remaining scrub was burned. These fires, plus the time of year, lead to the title Bonfire Bash.

At Renishaw and Lowgates, the volunteers were removing vegetation along the line of the unrestored canal. At Kiveton, where the canal is in water, they were cutting back trees and saplings that had grown up alongside. They needed a boat to help, so the Chesterfield Canal Trust volunteers brought Python. Python was built in 1929 and served as a working boat for over 70 years, latterly for British Waterways. The Chesterfield Canal Trust acquired it in 2009, when it had become surplus to requirements. It was used as a promotional boat at waterway rallies and carnivals until 2013, when it sprung a serious leak and major repairs were required to the hull. These were completed a year ago and the Trust’s volunteers are currently fitting out a new cabin. Python will continue to be a promotional boat for the Trust in the summer, but will help the Canal & River Trust with maintenance on the canal in the winter.

The Trust was also delighted to receive a large donation from WRG North West, presented by John Foley.For further information, please go to the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s website – just search for Chesterfield Canal. www.chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk